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Govt targets land supply, RMA to make houses affordable

Govt targets land supply, RMA, construction productivity and infrastructure in housing response

By Paul McBeth

Oct. 29 (BusinessDesk) - The government has released a raft of targets and new research projects in response to the Productivity Commission's report into the unaffordability of housing in New Zealand.

The National-led administration aims to make home ownership more affordable by increasing land supply, cutting the resource consent time for mid-size projects, lifting construction productivity and improving the infrastructure to manage new housing projects, Finance Minister Bill English said in a statement.

"High housing debt diverts money from more productive investments, contributes to New Zealand's significant overall level of indebtedness and exposes taxpayers to growing demands for State assistance with housing costs," English said. "Those factors make it vital that housing becomes more affordable."

In April, the Productivity Commission made a slew of recommendations to improve housing affordability, and was especially critical of Auckland Council's proposed compact city approach which undermined that goal.

The government is looking at ways to assist Auckland's housing supply, and is considering legislative change to allow a faster adoption of Auckland' unitary plan to address that need.

"Many of the changes that will make a difference lie with councils, and the government expects them to share the commitment to improving housing affordability," English said.

As part of its response, the government will introduce a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized Resource Management Act consents to speed up developments including subdivision. It is also looking at ways to create a national or regional hub for consent authorities, and will consider setting up a rival agency.

"If implemented fully, today's announcements on housing affordability will reduce housing stress and enable the housing market to better meet the needs of middle and low income New Zealanders," English said.


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